Whole Counsel Theology

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Brief Interlude

I've been involved in some discussions regarding Dr. James White, hypercalvinism, Tony Byrne, Peter Lumpkins, and comments from them all about Dr. White and HC (HyperCalvinism) in particular. I wanted to post the information here for reference and if anyone was interested in what was said. Comments on this post will not be allowed, as it is for information rather than discussion, and as it is a bit different from what I normally address here.

I posted a few other comments about this issue as well on Committed Christian's blog, and I would encourage the reader to follow the link there and note the links I provided. After I provided the first links and comments to Committed Christian a few days ago, I noticed on my visit today that Tony Byrne posted many comments there regarding Dr. White and some things that he said during our exchange over at Peter Lumpkins' blog (link to that below). It was these comments that prompted my response, and though I admit it is a bit lengthy, it seemed good to provide it.

I hope it helps the issues in the discussion, to the glory of God.


Good afternoon again.

I do not wish this to become yet another exchange similar to the one Tony, Peter, and I had over on the latter's blog a while back, so I shall attempt to be brief, state the issues as I have been able to interact with them (and specifically, Dr. White in particular).

Tony is a master of compiling information; I know of no one else who is able to put together so much on a theological topic and arrange it in a relevant and informative manner. My hat is off to him for that.

At the same time, certain things can get lost in the mix, some things about which I may be in error, but some which do indeed confuse me. There are others still which I have information about given that I have interacted about these things with Dr. White personally.

Firstly, I wanted to say that back in 2008, it was not a new thing for Dr. White to begin to believe that God commands all men everywhere to repent, and, that God truly does desire all of them to repent, and, further still that God wants all men everywhere to be saved.

It is nothing new.

I addressed this issue with him shortly after the debate he had with Steve Gregg in his chat room. Though I didn't think I did, I have the chatlog from that exchange. I didn't post it in the thread from the discussion I had with Tony and Peter, because I didn't know I still had it. I migrated a chat program from one system to another, and low and behold, I found it. Dr. White goes by the moniker "DrOakley" and I use my real name in his chat channel. TurretinFan chimes in as well with some helpful remarks. Timestamps are included.

From April 15th, 20008:
[18:08] [DaveHewitt] hey Doc, are you around?
[18:08] [DrOakley] Sorta.
[18:09] [DaveHewitt] I've been thinking about something that was a topic during your debate and the DL last Thursday.
[18:09] [DaveHewitt] The question came up about God's desire for all to be saved, whether or not there is some desire there in any sense.
[18:09] [DaveHewitt] Perhaps I can help a little -- well, maybe.
[18:10] [DaveHewitt] I didn't disagree with what you said at all.

{{NOTE}} This addresses what I believe to be the main issue of misunderstanding here, which I will explain later, how I can agree with him completely and yet continue to affirm everything I've said so far.

[18:10] [DaveHewitt] Though, perhaps one can still say in the sense that God commands all men to repent, in that sense, and perhaps that sense alone, He desires all men to be saved.
[18:10] [DaveHewitt] Simply because God desires perfect obedience to His commands.
[18:11] [DaveHewitt] ...or am I not making sense? :D
[18:11] * DaveHewitt notes that such a thing is common.
[18:11] [DrOakley] No, I thought of that.
[18:12] [DrOakley] But that is saying nothing more than "God wants all drunks to stop being drunks."
[18:12] [DaveHewitt] True.
[18:12] [DrOakley] And that is not what these folks are looking for. They want something more....
[18:13] [Tur8inFan] it is, more to the point, like saying "God does not want an innocent man to be killed by Pilate"
[18:13] [Tur8inFan] i.e. it is against the moral law
[18:13] [DaveHewitt] Do you think that part of the problem is that people don't see the fact that God desires His glory manifested in His justice?
[18:13] * DaveHewitt nods at Turretinfan
[18:13] [Tur8inFan] it's a "sense" but not a helpful sense - which is why Doc didn't bring it up
[18:13] [DrOakley] Tur8inFan: how do you handle this issue?
[18:14] [DrOakley] There are some who make it a tenet of orthodoxy to affirm, positively, an unfulfilled "desire" on God's part that runs counter to his decree.
[18:15] [DaveHewitt] Aye, I can think of at least one off the top of my head.
[18:16] [Tur8inFan] God desires perfect obedience to the moral law, in the sense that he judges variance from that
[18:16] [DaveHewitt] Though I mention it I suppose because I was wondering if it might help the issue a bit, for someone just to hear that. I could be wrong; wouldn't be the first time.
[18:16] * DaveHewitt shrugs.
[18:16] [Tur8inFan] but God desires history to occur as it does in the more full sense of the word desire
[18:17] [Tur8inFan] God accomplishes His purpose - the word of God does not come back empty
[18:17] [DrOakley] So how would you have answered Gregg?
[18:17] [Tur8inFan] Same as you.
[18:17] [DaveHewitt] O.O
[18:17] [DrOakley] Heh.
[18:17] [Tur8inFan] Talking about God's displeasure with sin was totally irrelevant to the debate
[18:17] [DaveHewitt] ....ok, I thought that was directed at me. :)
[18:17] [DrOakley] How do you think Calvin, or, especially for you, Turretin, would have answered?
[18:17] [Tur8inFan] You mean, if there were unlimited time, and you could answer in writing?
[18:17] [DrOakley] I mean, aside from having Gregg burned anyway? :-)
[18:18] [Tur8inFan] lol
[18:18] * DaveHewitt chuckles.
[18:18] [Tur8inFan] I don't think Gregg is a unitarian
[18:18] [Tur8inFan] anyhow
[18:18] [DrOakley] A borderline Socinian I would say, but anyway....
[18:18] [DrOakley] No, not in writing....I just don't read anything in Westminster, or in Calvin or Turretin, about God having unfulfilled desires that run counter to His decrees.
[18:19] [Tur8inFan] DrO: of course not
[18:19] * DaveHewitt agrees.
[18:19] [DrOakley] Those guys are not just affirming that God's law commands perfect obedience; they want some kind of affirmation of a semi-salvific, yet unfulfilled, desire on God's part.
[18:19] [Tur8inFan] There's a passage in Turretin that has been translated "desire" but it is a bad translation
[18:19] [DrOakley] And I just can't figure out the source of it outside of 2 Peter 3:9....
[18:19] [Tur8inFan] God deems morally upright behavior acceptable
[18:19] [Tur8inFan] and in that sense of "desire" desires it.

[18:20] [Tur8inFan] but that sense is not helpful
[18:20] [Tur8inFan] because God does not desire (in the more normal sense of the word) that the moral law be constantly observe
[18:20] [Tur8inFan] In fact, God intended the evil of Joseph's brethren
[18:20] [DrOakley] I can name a number of folks though that will immediately suspect you of hyperism if you don't grant that God positively has such a desire.

As I can hope you can see from this exchange back in 2008 that the issue that Dr. White nearly always addresses when talking about God’s desire is God’s ultimate desire, that is, what He has decreed. Dr. White is very careful how he uses the term desire out of concern about appearing inconsistent. Given when he does in the field of apologetics, perhaps it is understandable why he is so careful. Yet he affirms here, along with TurretinFan, (and I hope it is clear that this is something that he held prior to this conversation given the comparison with God’s commands and desires with wanting all drunks to stop being drunks) that God indeed does desire, in the sense of the moral law and will of God, that all men be saved. Combine this log with the videos I linked you to earlier, and I cannot help but think the conclusion comes out.

In that sense, it is clear why White hasn’t retracted his statements that he made on the Diving Line with Jason among other such comments (the DL discussion I did reference at Peter Lumpkins’ blog discussing it in a similar manner as this). White normally refers to God’s decree when talking about God’s desire in the salvation of all men – and no Calvinist will say that God desires that in terms of the decree. Yet, all Calvinists who are not Hyper Calvinists (which James White is not) will readily affirm that God DOES desire the salvation of all men in the moral will/preceptive will of God (which White also affirms, here and in those videos I’ve referenced in prior links here).

Shortly after Dr. White and I had this exchange he started changing the way he communicated when he would talk about these things, I suspect in a sincere effort to try to be clearer about them. It wasn’t that he changed what he believed, but that he, like I said, was making an effort to clarify his position.

I do apologize that this comment is not brief; it is the length of an entire blog post in and of itself. In fact, I may post it on my own blog for future reference.

Thank you for your patience; also, if you were still wanting some more clarification, I would recommend dropping into Dr. White’s chat channel and asking him. He is usually there and often is available to answer sincere questions. He’s accommodated me numerous times, this but being one example. :)


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